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After 1000 wins, Rafael Nadal picks the 6 best ATP matches of his career

Rafael Nadal at the Rolex Paris Masters 2020
Rafael Nadal at the Rolex Paris Masters 2020
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 05 Nov 2020, 19:20 IST
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Despite a disjointed, topsy-turvy 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Rafael Nadal has had a very successful time on the court lately. In October, the Spaniard won a record-extending 13 Roland Garros title, in the process equaling Roger Federer's record of 20 Grand Slams.

Shortly after that, Nadal broke Jimmy Connors' long-standing record for most consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the men's rankings. And now with his first-round win at the Paris Masters on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal has reached 1000 match wins on the tour.

To mark the occasion, ATP has released a video of the Spaniard speaking about his most memorable and remarkable wins on tour so far.

Super emotional: Rafael Nadal on 2006 Rome Masters final against Roger Federer

Rafael Nadal (R) and Roger Federer at the Rome Masters 2006
Rafael Nadal (R) and Roger Federer at the Rome Masters 2006

Rafael Nadal acknowledged his first win on tour as the most important. He claimed that at 15 years of age, that result made him confident about his chances of making it on tour.

"It was a long time ago," reminisced the 34-year-old. "For me it was amazing to win my first match on the professional tour. I remember well against Ramon Delgado, it was completely unexpected. I enjoyed winning in front of people."

Nadal defeated Ramon Delgado 6-4 6-4 in his hometown of Mallorca in 2002. That made him only the ninth player on the ATP Tour to win his first professional match before the age of 16.

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Nadal also mentioned the final of the Rome Masters in 2005 against Guillermo Coria, where the then 18-year-old gave up a one-set lead on two separate occasions. But the Spaniard eventually prevailed in a deciding set tiebreak, winning 6-4 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6.

Nadal called it 'one of the most unforgettable' matches in his career, as well as his greatest-ever final.

The final of the Rome Masters the following year was also a particularly special one for Nadal, as he defeated rival Roger Federer in yet another five-set thriller.

"It was a very important match, second title here in Rome and again super emotional," said Nadal. "At match point, anything could have happened and it was at the beginning of our rivalry."
"It was a close match. It seemed like first I had the advantage and then it was with him. Great memories because the crowd in Rome has always been fantastic," the World No. 2 added.

Rafael Nadal names 2013 Indian Wells final and 2010 ATP Finals semifinal as favorite hardcourt matches

Rafael Nadal (L) and Andy Murray at the ATP Finals in 2010
Rafael Nadal (L) and Andy Murray at the ATP Finals in 2010
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Perhaps unexpectedly, Rafael Nadal picked his semifinal encounter with Andy Murray at the 2010 ATP Finals as one of his best matches on tour.

The match ended 7-6 3-6 7-6 in Nadal's favor, and even Andy Murray categorized it as one of his finest nights, claiming "... Tonight is why I play tennis."

Nadal also recalled the 2013 Indian Wells final against Juan Martin del Potro, claiming that it was a very special win. The Spaniard was returning after a long injury hiatus, and the win over Del Potro gave him his first hardcourt title in over two years.

"Very emotional this one because it was my first hardcourt title after a very long injury," said Nadal about his 4-6 6-3 6-4 win.
Rafael Nadal (L) and Juan Martin del Potro at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open Final
Rafael Nadal (L) and Juan Martin del Potro at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open Final
"2012 had been very tough for me, especially after Roland Garros. I started 2013 in a lot of pain in my knee, and at Acapulco I started playing well. From Acapulco, the rest of the 2013 season was one of the best of my career," Nadal added.

The sixth and last match that Rafael Nadal talked about was his 2019 Rome Masters victory over Novak Djokovic. Nadal famously bagelled the Serb in the first set of that match, and although he stumbled in the second, he managed to complete a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win.

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The full video of Nadal reliving the 6 matches can be watched below:

Published 05 Nov 2020, 17:52 IST
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